Late Tuesday, a federal judge completely rejected Chicago State University’s (CSU’s) argument that Stand Up For Speech plaintiffs Phil Beverly and Robert Bionaz may not bring a First Amendment claim against the university. Professors Beverly and Bionaz run a popular blog, the CSU Faculty Voice, which is highly critical of the CSU administration. CSU tried to convince the judge that Beverly and Bionaz had no case because they had no reasonable basis upon which to think that CSU would punish them for criticizing the university. As Torch readers who are familiar with this case know, this argument could not pass the laugh test.» Read More
With SB 2150, North Dakota has the chance to become the second state in the country to grant students at its public colleges and universities the right to hire attorneys for suspension or expulsion hearings. The Grand Forks Herald wastes no time in driving home why the bill is necessary.» Read More
Category: The Torch
In 2014, many colleges and universities took significant steps toward protecting students’ and professors’ freedom of speech. FIRE was happy to newly bestow our highest, “green light” rating upon the University of Florida, Georgetown College in Kentucky, and Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, and we saw several other colleges revise their worst speech codes in order to better protect open debate on campus. Azhar Majeed, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Education Program, takes to Minding the Campus this week to urge colleges and universities across the nation to follow these institutions’ lead.» Read More
FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for January 2015: Georgia Southern University (GSU).
As we begin a new year, we want to keep the focus squarely on the incursions on free speech by the federal government—specifically, by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).» Read More
Today, FIRE presents a timely new video featuring Brookings Institution senior fellow Jonathan Rauch. In the wake of last week’s horrifying attack on Charlie Hebdo in France, Americans and Europeans are rediscovering the importance of unfettered expression. In the interview, which was taped last year but not released until now, Rauch explains how the Salman Rushdie affair of the 1980s and the West’s “watery, weak” response to it inspired him to write his landmark book, Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought. Rauch also sheds light on the damage hate speech laws (which are common in Europe, including in France) can do to minorities, and he argues that free speech is their best weapon against oppression.» Read More
The many problems with the way Harvard University and other institutions nationwide are handling allegations of sexual assault aren’t new to Torch readers. Campus hearings often fail to provide the accused important procedural safeguards like an opportunity to present evidence on one’s behalf or cross-examine witnesses, and universities don’t have the authority to get guilty students off the street and into jail. In short, the status quo fails everybody. Amidst increasing media attention to these problems, Harvard Law School Professor Nancy Gertner—one of the 28 Harvard Law professors who signed a letter strongly objecting to the university’s new sexual harassment policy—adds her unique perspective as a former federal judge and a former criminal defense attorney in the Winter 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine.» Read More
As advocates for free expression struggle to come to terms with last week’s tragic and deadly attack against the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, many are asking questions about what this means for freedom of speech everywhere, including in the United States.
Last Thursday, New York Times columnist David Brooks asked those who have taken up the cause of free speech in response to the horrific violence against Charlie Hebdo cartoonists to defend speech at all times, even closer to home.» Read More
Category: The Torch
Schools: Vanderbilt University
University of Kansas
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Cases: Nationwide: Colleges Across the Country Disinvite Commencement Speakers University of Kansas: Anti-NRA Tweet Results in Professor’s Suspension
This morning, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit revived the First Amendment retaliation claim of former student Hayden Barnes, marking another victory in his long-running case.» Read More
Readers of The Torch may remember FIRE’s Catherine Sevcenko’s helpful letter to the Iowa State Daily last October, pointing out a number of Iowa State University’s (ISU’s) failures to respect its students’ First Amendment rights. In that letter, Catherine noted a lawsuit against ISU that FIRE has coordinated as part of our Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project. Paul Gerlich and Erin Furleigh, student leaders of ISU’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), are suing the school after it revoked approval of a T-shirt that included the school’s mascot and later rejected a design with a NORML slogan that was accompanied by a marijuana leaf.
This past weekend, Catherine wrote to Iowa’s The Gazette to call attention to the most recent development in that case, a ruling by a federal judge that will allow the lawsuit to go forward.» Read More
Fans of free speech on campus in Missouri have something to get excited about: Legislators in both houses of the state’s legislature have introduced identical versions of the Campus Free Expression Act (CAFE Act). If enacted, the CAFE Act would prohibit public colleges and universities in the state from limiting speech and expressive activity to unconstitutionally restrictive “free speech zones.”» Read More
Category: The Torch